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So Many Questions

To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” —Anne Rice

And Way Too Many Answers

What bird is this. Thankfully, a question I can answer. It's a black-crowned night heron. -- Photo by Pat Bean

What bird is this? Thankfully, a question I can answer. It’s a black-crowned night heron. — Photo by Pat Bean

            Hermione in the Harry Potter series reminds me of my young self, although I was never cute. I was a skinny, freckle-faced brat with unkempt hair. But like Hermione, I knew the answers to all the questions, and my hand was always up when one was asked – unless I forgot to raise my hand and just blurted out the answer.

Is Antelope Canyon in Arizona  a slot canyon, a wash.  an arroyo, or a gulch or all of the above. See. Some questions aren't easy to answer.

Is Antelope Canyon in Arizona a slot canyon, a wash. an arroyo, or a gulch or all of the above. See. Some questions aren’t easy to answer.

The questions back then, however, were easy. What is 12 plus 12? Who is known as the Father of our Country?  What year did Columbus discover America? Of course that was back before I realized America had been discovered long before Columbus set foot upon its land.

My brain, until I hit my 30s, was full of facts and all the right answers. OK, I admit, I’m a late bloomer.

But once I started questioning the answers, I quickly went from being a know-it-all to quite confused.  I became a wonderer, full of questions that seldom had just one answer, and sometimes even no answers.

Why don’t we learn from history? Which is the right path to take?  Is it better to protect the environment or provide jobs so people can feed their children? New questions pop into my head daily. Dang it!

I suspect I’m still going to be asking questions on my death bed. But isn’t it interesting how one can go from being a know-it-all to a know-nothing. Logically, it seems it should be the other way around.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

   Bean Pat: Ghost Bear Photography http://tinyurl.com/ohvthc8 If you like wildlife and wilderness you will love this blog. Today it’s simply a quote that speaks to me, and a fantastic view of the Tetons.

Great Quote – Not

            I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. – D. H. Lawrence

 Think Again

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. — Photo by Pat Bean

            While I’ve always accepted, as fact, that animals have feelings and thoughts and can grieve, I might once have seen the above quote as simply inspirational. I mean I agree with its philosophy that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she's being left behind. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she’s being left behind. — Photo by Pat Bean

But time, and my love and observation of animals, have convinced me that animals can, and do, sometimes feel sorry for themselves. Why not? They are, after all, intelligent beings, who clearly display emotions of joy and sadness.

I once had a dog that showed clear signs of depression after my cat, which had been her long-time companion, died. And my current canine companion, Pepper, clearly shows signs of feeling sorry for herself every time she knows she’s going to be left alone at home. As I go out the door, she slinks into a corner, droops her head, and stares, with her velvet brown eyes, accusingly at me.

Thankfully, she’s a dog and holds no grudges — which is more of a cat trait — and greets me with uninhibited joy when I return.

While I don’t know what Pepper does to console herself when she’s in a Pity-Pepper mode, I do know what I do when a Pity-Pat mood strikes me. I simply think of all the people in the world who would gladly trade places with me – and I realize just how many millions that would be.

Sometimes we simply need to rethink things – like D.H. Lawrence’s popular quote.            

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat:  Janaline’s World Journey http://tinyurl.com/pskalcm I loved this delightful arm chair journey to visit the Temple of Ta Prohm, and now want to go back and watch Tomb Raider so I can view the scenes in which it was featured, just as I revisited the movie, Master and Commander, after visiting, in actuality, one of its filming sites in the Galapagos Islands. Since the world is so big, and my travels are limited by time and money, I’m thankful for being able to view some of them from my comfortable home. Thank you Janaline.

X Marks the Spot

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.” – Flannery O’Connor

The large X Marks the Spot painting that hangs in my living room that was a gift to me from my artist friend Richard Sheppard.

The large X Marks the Spot painting that hangs in my living room, which was a gift to me from my artist friend Richard Sheppard.

A Silly Game

            My mornings begin by walking my canine companion, Pepper, and then returning to my apartment for a cup of bold, cream-laced coffee, during which time I plan my day by writing down everything I want to accomplish in my daily notebook.

A painting my Wassily Kandinsky, an artist whose work I love.

A painting my Wassily Kandinsky, an artist whose work I love.

The list is usually lengthy – and most certainly undoable. But, since I don’t suffer from OCD, I get pleasure in crossing out anything on the list that I do complete, and accepting that what’s left over makes a starting point for the next day.

Often, as I drink my coffee, I look up at a painting that was a gift to me from my friend Richard Sheppard. It’s titled X Marks the Spot.

My imagination asks me which X represents me this particular day.  Do I feel energized like a red X, happy or giddily like a yellow X, or strong and determined like a black X.? I know it’s silly, but it’s a game I’ve been playing for years.

This morning, as I drank my coffee and looked at the painting, I thought of the opening line of an Indiana Jones movie in which the professor said “X never marks the spot.” But of course it did.

Then I decided that my X for this day would be the biggest black one I could find. It would represent my determination to keep my newly created resolution to write three hours a day. I’ve learned that if I at least mark off this item on my long list, I will feel a sense of achievement that will put a big smile on my face.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pats: Spiced Memories http://tinyurl.com/n3vsf7v  and Wassily Kandinsky http://tinyurl.com/lx9ou9d I liked these two blogs because they sent me on a research mission to learn more. I checked out the photo on Spiced Memories, and found a creative spice commercial that was truly artsy-fartsy. And the second blog introduced me to an artist whose work has now made the list of my favorites, along with the paintings of Homer Winslow, Van Gogh and Emil Nolde’s colorful interpretations of life that goes on around us. The Internet is so much better than the encyclopedia volumes that my curious mind devoured before the world-wide-web became a daily part of my life.

            “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”  — Lao Tzu

I just realized this morning that Pepper sort of looks like the dog token in Monopoly, which was always my favorite game piece.

I just realized this morning that Pepper sort of looks like the dog token in Monopoly, which is always my favorite game piece.

Change is Inevitable

            I recently learned that a cat token had replaced Monopoly’s iron token. I don’t know about you but I think it was about time.

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

My iron went out with the first days of wash and wear. Before that, which was way back when I had growing children, by the time I got to the bottom of the basket that held clothes to be ironed, my children had outgrown them.

The change to Monopoly – a game I played for endless hours when I was a child – was a result of a popular vote to eliminate one icon and replace it with another.

It seems logical to me why the iron was displaced, but why not something more new age, like a computer or a space station, as the new token?

It gives us something to think about. So what token would you have replaced, what would your choice have been for a new icon, and which one do you like as your game piece?

I always play with the dog.

But I can’t think of a better choice than a cat for the new token.  If you own the right cat, or  more likely it owns you, as I have three out of four times, I found them to be almost as companionable as a dog. It’s OK Pepper. I said almost.

Change, I’ve come to learn in my old-broad wisdom, is often neither good or bad. It just is. And it’s inevitable.      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

      Bean Pat: Worthy of Attention http://tinyurl.com/k8qbk8d  We all like compliments. And this blog reminds me to be freer with mine.

      

I feel like the past nine days have been like a storm on the horizon keeping me holed up inside of myself.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I feel like the past nine days have been  a storm on the horizon that has kept me holed up inside of myself. — Photo by Pat Bean

So Many Questions, Only One Answer

            My goal for this year was to post three times a week. Mostly I met it, and even sometimes exceeded it. But it’s been nine days since I posted on this blog. Nine unproductive days in which I have done nothing that gave me a sense of achievement.

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I've thought about other paths, they aren't the ones that sustain me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I’ve thought about other paths, they aren’t the ones that sustain me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Now I’m asking myself why I keep on keeping on. Why do I continue to struggle to get my book, “Travels with Maggie,” published? Why do I continue to send out my travel articles and other essays to markets when I get more rejections than acceptances? Why do feel I must write every day?

I think about giving it all up, simply living this third trimester of my life lazing about. I would have to be quite frugal, but I’ve done that all my life. I long ago realized money is nice to have, but has nothing to do with happiness.

The truth is, my past nine days of lazing about morphed the happy person I’ve always been into someone I suddenly didn’t know, or particularly like.

Now, however, as I ponder these questions in the way I do best – with my fingers on my computer in front of a blank page – I find myself smiling. It feels amazing and wonderful to once again be the person I have come to know and love.

I guess that’s my answer to why I keep on keeping on.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: To Girls of all Age http://tinyurl.com/ld44qas I love this message. It touched my soul.

Not Writing?

            “And as imagination bodies forth

            The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

            Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

            A local habitation and a name. — William Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. — Photo by Pat Bean

Perhaps You Are

“Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not writing.” – Unknown

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I'm a lucky old broad indeed. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I’m a lucky old broad indeed. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across that quote when I was 10 years into my 37-year journalism career. From that point forward, it never strayed far from being in plain sight when I sat down at my computer.

While one is never going to become a writer unless he writes a heck of a lot, I think those who do write, do it even when they’re not doing it.

Perhaps only writers can understand this. But observing the features of the person sitting opposite you at Starbucks, and imagining how you would describe those features to readers, is writing. Recalling the full-bodied dream you had, and wondering if it could be a story, is writing. And staring out the window at the clouds and not thinking of anything is writing.

To write is to be observant of life as it plays out all around you. Putting what you see into words makes awesome sunsets and the aged wrinkles in an old woman’s face both seem real – and both seem beautiful. At least that’s the way it is for this writer.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Cape Point Hike http://tinyurl.com/mssarg7 I can never resist a scenic walk, and always enjoy when a writer takes me along with them.

             “Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.” –Zig Ziglar

There's not much more American than Route 66. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s not much more American than Route 66. — Photo by Pat Bean

My Country – For Better and For Worse

Celebrating America -- Photo by Pat Bean

Celebrating America — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not much for patriotism. It’s been the cause of too many wars. But almost every day, I wake up, and realize how thankful I am that I was born in this great country.

I weep, often and openly, for women born in countries where they are denied the same freedoms, the same opportunities, the same respect, as men. Not that many men in any country actually think women are their equals, but at least in this country we have the opportunity for careers of our choice, the right to vote, the right to hold public office and the right to go anywhere we dare alone.

It’s not always easy, and life is not always fair, but at least we have a chance. But that’s the same whatever the gender. But I cringe, thinking of what my great life today would be like if I had as few choices as some of my other-country sisters.

Thank you America. I love your purple mountains’ majesty and your amber waves of grain. And because I was free to travel this country as a lone female, I know your bounteous beauty.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Happy Fourth of July http://tinyurl.com/ly35ypq  Even if you’re a raccoon. Just a birdy way to get you to smile.

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